Lola and Finn's Mum

Lola and Finn's Mum

Monday, 27 February 2012

Sunday lunch courtesy of Delia - Loin of pork with a creme fraiche and mustard sauce

Ah Sunday lunch. An glorious institution and a time of the week where the basting of meat and the fluffing of parboiled potatoes for 'roasties' is the done thing. A roast dinner isn't necessarily an arduous task but I was looking for something a little quicker this weekend for I fancied an early dinner so I could sit myself in front of the TV and watch the football, so this oft done recipe chez Lola and Finn fitted the bill exactly. I prepped the meat before and put it in the oven around the time the roast potatoes were half done, whipped up the sauce and by the time everything was ready the house was filled with wondrous garlic gorgeousness. Yum.

I didn't realise this recipe was a Delia, for I had cut the recipe out of a magazine years ago and had it stuck in a file. It was only by a bit of curious googling that I found its source. I have to say I am not surprised, because it is completely delish. An initial faff, yes, but easy to prep ahead of time to be covered and put in the fridge until you need it. It's also a use for that mustard I brought back from France that I haven't got round to using up yet. I really must avoid impulse buying.

The changes I made here were subtle. I subbed shallots in the sauce as I like their more delicate flavour. I also liven it up a touch at the end with a squeeze of lemon but you need to taste the finished sauce yourself to decide whether it needs it. I also upped the quantity of parsley and garlic slightly in the breadcrumb mix because I find it makes the coating a little more dense and moist, and therefore sticks to the pork loin better.

Lastly, pork loin needs a bit of tender living care because it can dry out, it being such a lean cut. It does need to be ever so slightly pink in my opinion and well rested so it does not resemble the texture of an old boot, though the sauce helps enormously should that happen. Plenty of sauce and no one will ever know!

Roast Pork Loin with Creme Fraiche and Mustard sauce, adapted from Delia Smith (recipe from Delia Online)

Serves 2, plus Lola and Finn

1 pork tenderloin
1 egg
1 dessertspoon wholegrain mustard
1 dessertspoon Dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic, peeled
A handful of flat leaf parsley
2 heaped tablespoons natural breadcrumbs (from a packet) though I blitzed a stale slice of bread
salt and freshly milled black pepper
For the sauce:
1 heaped teaspoon wholegrain mustard
1 heaped teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon crème fraîche
½ oz (10 g) butter
3 shallots, finely chopped
150ml dry white wine
salt and pepper to taste
a squeeze of lemon (optional)


Preheat the oven to 190c/375f if you are cooking this straight after preparation.

Trim any excess fat and sinew from the pork tenderloins. Find a dish that will fit the loin in comfortably, though I cut my loin in half when I found that a difficulty.

In a small bowl, beat the ingredients needed to coat the loin, that is the egg together with the mustards.  

Next, chop the garlic and parsley (in a mini-chopper or processor, if you have one), add the breadcrumbs and a seasoning of salt and pepper, then whizz for a couple of seconds.

At this point you could use the method whereby you have separate dishes to coat the loins as in, a dish of the egg mixture, then a dish of the breadcrumbs. I find that a bit of a faff so I just brushed the egg mixture on with a silicon brush and then pressed the breadcrumbs on after that in the dish that the loin will be cooked in. Each to their own.

At this point you can cover the loin in their dish or tray and put in the fridge until required, remembering to bring the meat back up to room temperature before you place it in the oven.

After you have coated the loin and put them on a greased tray or dish, roast the fillets in the pre-heated oven for about 30 minutes for meat that is slightly pink. You may wish to cook it for longer.

Meanwhile, make the sauce. Heat the butter in a small saucepan and cook the shallots in it on a medium heat for about 10 minutes until softened.

Add the white wine, turn up the heat and boil for 10 minutes to reduce slightly, before adding the crème fraîche and mustards, then simmer gently for a further 10 minutes. You should taste at this point to test for seasoning. I often add a bit more creme fraiche to make it more creamy for Lola and Finn.

When the pork is cooked, let it rest in a warm place for about 10 minutes before carving into slices and serving with the sauce.

We had roasties, carrots and broccoli, and it was a perfectly suitable alternative to roast beef and Yorkshire pudding. Well, nearly.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Making it sound sweet so my kids will eat it! Caramel Chicken

I have to confess when I first happened upon this I did wonder whether this was something I would like to eat, as I couldn't shake the idea of it tasting like a Werther's Original, but I figured that the intriguing title meant that it was worth a try and I am glad I did, because Lola and Finn adored this. There is a caramelly nature to this, but I think it is more to do with the colour, a gorgeously burnished affair, rather than sweetness, though there is a hint of something caramel about the taste, but only fleeting. It's nowhere near enough to think that you are eating dessert.

I am also convincing myself that this comes under the guise of being healthy.

I made few alteratins to the original. I am not a massive fan of red onion when it is cooked so I subbed spring onions. I have a thing for flecks of green. I served this with some stir fried vegetables and noodles and it was delish!

Caramel Chicken, adapted from Open Kitchen by Bill Granger

Serves 3, plus Lola and Finn

8 chicken thigh fillets, skinless, chopped in half, (though I used breasts)
1 tbsp vegetable oil
3 spring onions, sliced
3 garlic cloves, sliced
55ml/2fl oz dark soy sauce
110g/4oz brown sugar
55ml/2fl oz Thai fish sauce


Place the chicken and oil in a bowl and toss to combine. Heat a large frying pan over a high heat until hot.

Add half the chicken and cook for two minutes on one side until lightly browned, turn and cook for another minute. Remove from the pan and repeat with the remaining chicken.

Reduce the heat to medium and add a little extra oil if needed. Add the onion and garlic and cook for five minutes, stirring occasionally.

Return the chicken to the pan, season liberally with black pepper, add the soy sauce and stir to combine.

Cover the pan, reduce heat to low and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Increase the heat to high, add the sugar and stir to combine. Cook uncovered for 3-4 minutes, or until the sauce is rich, dark and syrupy.

Add the fish sauce and stir to combine. Place in a serving dish and serve with your chosen accompaniments.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Something fishy for dinner at last! Besugo al Horno, or Baked Sea Bream. Delicioso!

Occasionally it's dinner for one. Well, dinner without Phill, and I take full advantage of this situation by sitting down to fish. We are scarily unpescatarian chez Lola and Finn and it is a source of disappointment to me. I might have more chance if Lola and Finn saw their dad eating a fruit de mer with gusto, but the fact of the matter is if it isn't covered in batter and come from the chippy, Phill is loathe to try any fish. Lola and Finn are proving hard to convert anyway, the only success I have had in making them eat fish is opening a tin of tuna.

Anyway, I try not to be too down about the lack of fish cooking and instead and make sure I grab the opportunity to cook myself something fishy when Phill is not at home. It's pasta night for the kids (they're happy) and I consider my options from the fish I have bought and frozen when I have been out shopping and spied a bargain. On this occasion it was sea bream, a fiddly fish really I suppose (though I suppose I could have filleted it - it was only me to care for though and sucking the flesh from fish bone doesn't really bother me at all) but I do like it and I love this simple way of cooking it. It appeals to that little part of me that is just a tiny bit Spanish. Sólo un poco.

The original recipe is from the exceptionally groovy and hunger inducing 'Olive' magazine but I have tweaked to my taste. Firstly, I am not a huge fan of red onion and decided instead on the half of a brown one that I had lurking in the fridge. Secondly, I cut the amount of oil down significantly, using enough just to grease the dish and then enough to coat the potatoes, tomatoes and onions rather than have them swimming. I probably used 25ml, maybe 30ml at a push. A small detail, but I used cherry tomatoes on the vine because I wanted a tomato that tasted of tomato, and this time of year is not the time to get them here in little old England (like any time is, but that is for another blog altogether).
And I added a little parsley at the end, because I love it with lemon.

This is very easy to make, even with the faff of parboiling the potato slices. Don't miss this out, otherwise the potatoes will not cook in the relatively short time it takes to cook the fish. Parboiling ensures the potatoes are cooked in the finished dish but it also allows the potatoes to take on the lemony, winey, oil flavours as the potatoes finish cooking. Alchemy indeed.

Besugo al Horno, or Baked Sea Bream, adapted from 'Olive' magazine

Ingredients for 2

2 Sea Bream, gutted and cleaned but with the head on
2 lemons (1 halved and the other cut into thin wedges)
50 - 60ml olive oil (or more if it is to your taste)
Three - four good size potatoes, thinly sliced and parboiled in salted water (I used Exquisa new potatoes, about seven of them)
One onion, sliced (red if you like)
One tomato sliced, or several smaller ones, sliced
2 bay leaves
a glass of white wine or fino sherry (I used white wine)


Prepare the potatoes by slicing them and then parboiling them until they are half cooked. Set aside until required.

Preheat the oven to 200f/Fan 180f/Gas 6

Oil the dish you are using to cook the fish.

Take the fish, carefully slash the fillets three times on each side, and insert a wedge of lemon into each slash.

Place the fish in the dish.

Tuck the potatoes, onion slices and tomatoes around the sides of the fish.

Add the olive oil, lemon juice and white wine. Ensure the potatoes, etc. are all well coated, using your hands if necessary.

Tuck in the bay leaves (if you haven't done so already!!) and season generously with salt and black pepper.

Cover the dish with foil and place it in the oven for about 25 minutes. Once that time has passed, remove the foil and cook for a further 10 minutes to allow the skin on the fish to crisp a little and for the potatoes to brown slightly.

Serve the fish whole on a bed of the vegetables, drizzled with the olive oil, lemon juice and wine mixture. A liberal sprinkling of parsley at this point is a beautiful thing.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Still a bit cold; more comfort food required! Beef stew with thyme and mustard dumplings

Last week's cold snap had me craving tasty stodge once again and this gorgeous stew more than satisfies any cravings. It's a Tamasin Day Lewis recipe once again with a small amount of tweaking. Her original recipe is Beef in Barolo, but unfortunately the contents of my purse won't stretch that far, so this is Beef in Gutsy Cabernet Sauvignon instead.

Dumplings are glorious things. Soft and fluffy, and flavoured with something with a little oomph they are the most amazing and (indeed necessary if you ask me) to any stew. I elected to go down the mustard and thyme route rather than horseradish and parsley and was not disappointed. The hit of heat married fabulously with the unctuous, beefy gravy and soft, yielding meat and vegetables. Utterly delicious.

I halved the recipe you see here, but doubled the dumplings, because Phill and I, frankly, adore them. The stew is amazingly good the next day, should you be in the unlikely situation that you actually have leftovers. We drank the remainder of the bottle of cab and then slumped in front of the roaring fire, the cold snap firmly banished from our minds.

Beef in Barolo (or Cabernet Sauvignon) stew with thyme and mustard dumplings, adapted from Tamasin's Kitchen Classics by Tamasin Day Lewis

Serves 8

For the stew:

2kg braising steak (or suitable stewing cut) cut into large cubes
seasoned flour
2 large onions, sliced
olive oil
4 sticks of celery (which I omitted)
4 large carrots cut into chunks
6 cloves garlic
2 leeks, whites cut into thick discs
1 swede, peeled and cut into cubes (which I omitted)
1 bottle of robust red wine
2 x 400g tins of tomatoes
sea salt and black pepper
a bouquet made with a large sprig of parsley, rosemary, thyme and two bay leaves with two strips of orange peel, tied together, (though I just chopped up some parsley stalks, put in about two teaspoons of thyme with one bay leaf)

For the dumplings:

110g self raising flour
55g suet (I prefer vegetable)
1 1/2 tsp chopped thyme
1 heaped dsrtsp mustard powder
sea salt and black pepper


Pre-heat the oven to 150c/300f/Gas 2

Put the seasoned flour in a bowl or a zip loc bag and then add the meat, shaking or stirring to ensure that each piece is well covered.

Begin to fry off the meat in the olive oil. I use a cast iron casserole pot. Fry in batches, ensuring each piece is well browned. Once browned, remove to a plate. You may need to add more oil.

If there is any seasoned flour left, coat the sliced onions in it and then put them into the pot. Allow them to release their juices. Add the vegetables to the pot in the order that they are listed in the ingredients. When the onions are soft and have turned translucent, return the meat and their juices to the pot.

Stir the meat and vegetables, then begin to add the wine. Add the wine in two or three bursts, ensuring that it bubbles up before you add the next burst.

When the wine is simmering, add the tomatoes. If they are whole tomatoes, then squash them into the stew.

Season with salt and pepper, and then add the bouquet garni, or the chopped herbs and bay leaf if you are me.

Cover the stew and place in the oven for about three hours, checking occasionally to ensure it isn't drying up. You could also cook this on top of the stove on a low heat, but check it regularly and stir it to ensure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pot.

About half an hour before the end of cooking, prepare the dumplings. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and then add a little cold water to bind the ingredients. Be careful with how much you add. You want the mixture to be combined and pliable but not wet and sticky.

Using floured hands, break off bits of the dough and roll into balls about the size of a walnut.

About 20 minutes before the end of the stew cooking time, put the dumplings onto the top of the stew, part submerging into the stew. Replace the lid and allow to cook for the remaining of the stew cooking time. By then they should have swollen and become fluffy.

Serve the stew in warmed bowls with a generous helping of dumplings and a liberal sprinkling of parsley. And if you have wine left, then treat yourself to a glass.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Thai - rrific: Nigel Slater's Coconut chilli (or chili) chicken

I know the premise of this blog is that I am a mum and that I try to create dishes to broaden the food horizons of my bubs, who, given the choice would happily live on chips, pasta, frubes and jaffa cakes. But sometimes, just sometimes, I crave something that is Lola and Finn 'unfriendly', and when that is the case, out comes the pasta, a tomato sauce is whipped up, some garlic bread may be added, and they are good to go. Meantime I set to work.
I do like a curry and so does Phill. And whilst I adore Indian food, lately I have enjoyed food with more of a Thai influence, which led me to cooking up this wonderful recipe from Nigel Slater, which is really so easy. You can take on the takeaway with this one; simple and quick to make (as long as you have a whizzy chopper) and smells divine. The smell when the spice mix hits the hot frying pan is heady and exotic. The other joy is that once the chicken is in, you let it blip away for 20 minutes or so whilst you open the Riesling and stack the dishwasher (if you're me, that is).
A note on my tweaking of the recipe. We like sauce and so I decided to use five chicken thighs instead of the recommended eight. There was a lot of sauce but that was fine by us. Obviously if you are sauce averse, alter the sauce ingredients dependant on how much chicken you are using.
I served this with simple boiled rice; an excellent foil for the punchy, spicy sauce. And it is a little punchy, in a nice way. It kind of starts off with a coconutty, creamy caress before the spicy slap of chilli. Not a bad thing.

Coconut chilli chicken, adapted from Nigel Slater's Simple Cooking

3 plump stalks lemongrass
50g/2oz fresh ginger
2 hot red chillies
2 cloves garlic
a bunch coriander
2 limes
2 tbsp groundnut oil
200g/7oz tomatoes (I used tinned)
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
8 chicken thighs (I used 5 boneless, skinless ones)
400ml/14oz can coconut milk
8 apricots, halved (but I left them out)


Peel and discard the outer leaves of the lemongrass as they can
sometimes be tough. Cut the inner leaves into short lengths and put
in the food processor.

Peel the ginger, then slice into thin pieces and add to the lemongrass. Chop the chillies, discarding their stems and add to the ginger with the peeled garlic. To reduce the heat a little you could totally deseed the chillies and take out all of the white membrane.
Roughly chop the stems and half of the leaves of the coriander to add to the food processor,
reserving the rest for later.

Grate the lime zest into the food processor, reserving the limes for later, then turn the machine on and let it chop everything to a coarse paste. Add a little groundnut oil and scrape the sides down with a spatula if it sticks. Add the fish sauce, soy sauce and the tomatoes
and process for a few seconds longer until all the ingredients appear amalgamated.

Warm a further tablespoon of groundnut oil in a deep pan over a moderate to high heat and use it to brown the chicken pieces, turning them so they colour nicely on both sides. Lift the chicken pieces out and pour away anything more than a tablespoon of oil and juices.

Add the spice paste and let it fry over a moderate heat for two minutes till fragrant, stirring almost constantly, then return the chicken to the pan. Pour over the coconut milk, stir, cover and leave to simmer over a low heat for 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile halve and stone the apricots (if using) and leave them to one side.

Test the chicken for doneness making certain it’s cooked right the way through, then add the apricots, if using. Leave to simmer for a few minutes, then add the juice of the limes and the reserved coriander leaves.


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